A Demonstration of the Sorcerous Arts of Cathay by the Scholar Tsung Chang-Mai

Invisible College Notice upon the Matter of Tsung Chang-Mai

As one of the foremost experts in the field at Invisible, Sir Nicholas Lovecraft has been given leave by the Faculty to investigate the claims of Tsung Chang-Mai concerning the nature of demons and the Fall. His forthcoming paper, detailing his findings, is expected to set Invisible policy in this matter, and is eagerly awaited by Sorcerers and other Scientists alike.

Sir Nicholas Lovecraft’s Letter

Greetings, fellow-scholar,

It occurs to me that certain advantages may be gained were someone to combine the Abrahamic system of sorcery with yours. I am attempting to persuade my superiors at the Invisible College to permit me to investigate your “heretical claims”, and, if permitted to do so, intend to present a favourable report along the lines that yours is a corrupted but still acceptable form of our own. That way, as long as you don't draw attention to the differences, you should be able to practise your arts with a minimum of persecution. In return for this, I would appreciate the opportunity to collaborate with you on developing new techniques for our shared art.

Be warned, though - I have heard from a colleague that you are translating a treatise on your magic into one of our languages, and that once you have completed this project, you may well find yourself, at best, without a tongue. This should also persuade you of the desirability of accepting my offer.

I have the honour to sign myself,

Sir Nicholas Lovecraft, M. Herm.

The Demonstration

I am informed that Lovecraft plans to write a paper on my magics and it is unlikely to be beneficial to me or paint me in a favourable light however much I demonstrate my skills. I do not wish to waste my efforts on summoning a Hu Li Jing. (Although to see the look on Lovecraft's face as Pale Bone attempted to seduce him (which of course Pale Bone always tries… even though taking on such a skeletal form…) would be priceless.) In fact, I will summon Pale Bone in the hope that I'll get a good laugh out of it… maintaining a straight face the whole time of course…

You prepare your circle and seals for summoning a Hu Li Jing in the cramped ritual space you have prepared in your office at the East India Company. Carefully you cut a small scratch in the soft underside of your dragon scale and allow the ink to pool, before dipping your brush in the ink and with delicate brushstrokes rendering the characters upon the prayer strips. You place the strips in their appointed positions and then between them scatter the dried animal blood. You could have taken it from the EIC stores, but Dr. Brandage has supplied you with some from her own stocks. She said that it was “kosher”, apparently connected in some way with her religion. A small summoning of a fox-demon seems like a good way to test its efficacy.

Pale Bone appears in the circle, taking his normal form, and immediately resumes from his last attempt to seduce you. It's not hard to resist a humanoid skeleton composed of hundreds of small translucent bones, though as normal you let him believe that you are swept away by his charms and if he will do but one favour for you then you'd be very grateful. You explain that in a little while you will be preparing a fake circle and that when you call upon Pale Bone he should come exactly as though summoned and act as if he were bound by the circle. You command him to speak only in mortal tongues, and hint that there's at least one person there that he may have a little sport with.

You are fairly sure that Pale Bone must by now realise that you'll never actually grant him your favour, but he seems to enjoy the charade. He plays his part with gusto, and with a final flowery improvised poem praising your beauty, swears that he will do as you have asked.

The summoning of the “nine-tailed fox” will be conducted in a lecture hall in the sorcery faculty at Invisible College; the tiled white walls seem to glow slightly with regularly updated sigils against demons. (Learning to become a sorcerer can be a messy business, with the insides of failing students needing to be cleaned off occasionally.)

As you enter Nine Fires, though immaterial, has slipped in so close to you that you can feel her presence wrapped round you. It is a curious sensation, like wearing a set of clothes that do not move in time with your body, though not uncomfortable. Nine Fires whispers in your ear that the wards here are strong and that it is beyond her power to cause any harm to those present. Once safely inside the lecture theatre she departs from you, leaving you feeling briefly exposed as if you had taken off some clothes.

Rows of benches have been setup around the space into which the demon will be summoned and a number of members of the senior faculty have come to view the proceedings. They get the best seats (which at a sorcerous summoning are those with a good view and close to the exits). Undergraduates and other more junior members of the faculty fill the rest of the seats. There is a buzz of anticipation since none have seen a summoning by a Chinese sorcerer, and rumour has it that she may be arrested and executed at the end of the event, for heresy and blasphemy.

You are dressed in formal Chinese robes, which seem to draw the disapproval of the audience, but nonetheless you bow low to the senior faculty and to Sir Nicholas Lovecraft which at least quietens the disapproving whispers. Silently you begin to prepare a “circle”. First you take some of the small pieces of paper you have brought and using a thin brush paints paint the ritual characters upon them. You deliberately write each character with an almost painful sloppiness; it would get you scolded as a ten year old. No demon concerned with respect would fail to show its displeasure at such poor calligraphy. It is difficult for your audience to make out the details of what you're doing and they quickly bore.

Once the prayer strips are prepared you places each in a subtly wrong place upon the ground. You do take some care to look as if you are surveying the area set aside for the circle critically and only setting each of the characters upon the ground after careful thought. The audience is getting impatient now and loud laughter breaks out occasionally, sometimes even a catcall telling you to get on with it.

You affect indifference to the noise around you as you take a bag of powder and spread it between and over each of the pieces of inked paper. This dried blood does come from the stores of the East India Company, made up of sweepings and leavings by your fellow sorcerers which have not yet been disposed of. Satisfied you turn and announce to the crowd that you will require silence now to begin the summoning proper. Parts of the crowd fall silent, the senior faculty and the sorcery students recognise elements of the circle and want to see what happens next. The rest of the crowd, made up of undergraduates from the other schools simply talk a little less loudly until Sir Nicholas Lovecraft bellows to them to shut up.

You begin to chant, a traditional childhood skipping song though you are careful to put on a thick Huguang accent1) in case there is unexpectedly a scholar of the Mandarin language in the audience. As you chant you move around the circle purposefully making a show of checking that all is going well. You chant the skipping rhyme louder and faster until you shout “Pale Bone” (Cang Bai Gu) three times.

Immediately a loud roaring is heard from the centre of the circle and from the centre seems to rise a pile of small bones, though each is somewhat translucent. After the pile has grown to waist height, it suddenly rearranges itself, standing up to form the familiar shape of Pale Bone. He bows to you in a rather rakish manner and you tell him to have a bit of fun, particularly with the man nearest the circle (Lovecraft) though not to harm anyone.

Pale Bone bows once more, with a flourish, and turns to Sir Nicholas Lovecraft who has advanced to the edge of the circle of dried blood. He is however careful not to step across it. Pale Bone walks toward him and begins to serenade him with the most outrageous bad poetry. After only a few moments you can't help giggling at his bizarre similes, though he has an excellent mind for innuendo!

As Pale Bone advances the number of bones forming it seems to grow and smaller and more delicate bones begin to fill the gaps that existed between the other larger bones. The gentle roaring quietens to a gentler susurrating noise. Each new imperceptible addition still a pale translucent bone, and the demon does not grow. Instead he appears to become more solid with each step, the shape becoming more clearly that of a handsome young man (though still obviously made of bones). It also becomes extremely clear that it is a very naked man shape, and it elicits some favourable whistles from a few of the sorcery undergraduates.

Pale Bone's declarations of love and more grow ever more hammy and intense as he advances; his arms are gesturing imploring. You're still giggling like a schoolgirl when he reaches the edge of the circle, though occasionally you try to take a breath and put on a solemn face before some new dirty limerick from Pale Bone starts you laughing again.

Sir Nicholas Lovecraft stands nervously at the edge of the circle, carefully checking that the line of red powder is between him and the demon. His occasional glances at the line nervously, though your giggling only seems to increase his evident discomfort. (Of course that just makes the whole situation even funnier!) He does stand his ground though, apparently not wishing to appear cowed before the faculty by what is evidently a minor demon.

Pale Bone suddenly switches to English. He makes an imploring and impassioned speech, seeming almost ready to sink to its knees, describing Sir Nicholas as “a god amongst men, a figure obviously formed from all the grace and beauty in the universe, a perfect star set upon the Earth to inflame desire”.

Sir Nicholas turns to you as if to ask a question. Viper fast the demon crosses the circle and grabs Lovecraft! Its hands close upon his arse to get a good feel even as it locks him in an embrace. There are a number of screams from the crowd who rise from their benches in panic, and around the senior faculty a sense of gathering power and the idea of a smell of ozone as they prepare to do battle with the thing that has left the circle.

Pale Bone's lips hover close to Sir Nicholas' mouth, ready to give him a lusty kiss, as it draws a great breath tasting his chi with obvious relish before the main course. With a strength drawn from anger and fear Sir Nicholas manages to break free, though he's clearly light-headed being unfamiliar with even a tiny loss of breath.

Through a gale of laughter has bent you double you shout, in English, at Pale Bone to be gone. And in an instant he is. The entire lecture hall is in uproar as Sir Nicholas is led outside by concerned students and it is only the presence of the imposing senior faculty that prevents violence as you shout in a loud voice that you had “forgotten to warn [them] that Cathayan circles are somewhat larger than those of Christendom”.

As you leave in the uproar, several of the Invisible College students taking the opportunity to denounce you as a heretic and one to spit on you, you can feel Nine Fires wrap around you again. She remains so all the way back to your office, and after entering it you hear the familiar polite cough from behind you. She wears the same red silk open collared robe as on her previous visit but this time the rujun beneath is slightly translucent and patterned with a bone motif. She bows low to you and then straightens to makes her report, her head remaining slightly bowed.

“There are some there that have mingled their breath in recent days with something like my kind, their breath was most foul and I did not more than sample of it.” A brief expression of displeasure crosses her face as if remembering a bad taste. “Most were no more foul than the rest of the gwailo with their stink of rancid milk.” 2)

You question her further upon which members of the Invisible College she thought had corrupt breath but she simply tells you that “All gwailo look alike to me”.

You leave for Cathay that same day.

Invisible College Notice on the Matter of Tsung Chang-Mai

“Following the research supplied by Sir Nicholas Lovecraft on the effects of Cathayan Sorcery and its heretical applications, the Master has issued an academic decree recommending in the strongest terms that all further Sorcerous experiments on this… individual's… part be observed by an authorised academic Scientist. We can only assume that her recent acceptance to a junior lectureship at Lanik College is a deliberate insult to the College's Sorcerous expertise, under the circumstances…”

News - Conversations Overheard by Invisible College

”…and then it kissed him. I never thought Lovecraft was that way inclined!”
“Towards demons or men?”
“Well, that'd explain why he was so unhappy about it. I still can't believe we didn't get to see her executed.”
“Maybe Lovecraft'll try harder next time.”
“I don't know, even if you're interested, what's wrong with being called “a god amongst men, a figure obviously formed from all the grace and beauty in the universe, a perfect star set upon the Earth to inflame desire”?”
“When the sorcerer controlling the demon is having hysterics?”
“I suppose.”

News - A Notice from the Master of Invisible College

“The Master's office wishes it to be known that, following Sorcerous and Philosophical investigation by the Department of Esoteric Sciences, headed by Professor Lovecraft, into the claims of the self-professed 'Sorcerer' and 'Philosopher' from heathen Cathay, one Tsung Chang-Mai, the Invisible College has stipulated a number of Regulations which it calls upon all Right-Thinking Christian Men and Women to Follow, and to encourage their Academick Colleagues to Follow.

Item the First, That, since this Cathayan Individual has herself been witnessed to claim, and to demonstrate, that the Boundaries of the 'Sorcerous' circles she utilises for the purposes of Summoning are not as clearly Delineated by their Physical Boundaries as good Christian protective Circles, a qualified Academic Philosopher, preferably an adept of the Holy Path in case the necessity for Exorcism occurs, must supervise her Summonings, inscribing a larger Protective Circle around the Experiment.

Item the Second, That, should the Cathayan Individual, or any other Charlatan of her Ilk, refuse this Condition, that she is clearly guilty of rank Heresy and wilful Endangering of the Lives and Immortal Souls of all those good Christians in her Vicinity, and should be immediately Arrested and Tried for Diabolism by the King's Men or any loyal Noble of Albion.

Item the Third, That, An authorised Sorcerer or Philosopher should immediately and Posthaste test the knowledge of Tsung Chang Mai and the entities she claims to Control upon her knowledge of the Daemonic Tongue, so as to enquire concerning their place in the Cosmology of God's Universe, and their position relative to the Infernal Host…”

The notice continues with various legal waffle for some time. Although the declaration has no binding legality until it is passed through Parliament, such regulations are rarely passed from the Master's Office and often heeded when they are.

1) think English spoken with a thick Glaswegian accent
2) You will have noticed this upon first arriving in Albion, the immense stink of foul milk that surrounds every native and just gets worse when they sweat. By this stage though you will be quite used to it and probably can't smell it anymore.
bonus.demon_demo_at_invisible.txt · Last modified: 2008/03/25 15:40 by ivan